Want to start a fight? Suggest that pit bull-type dogs are dangerous and should be banned. Folks who love the dogs will trumpet all their outstanding characteristics and, probably, accuse you of animal racism.
Diane Elmore, who lives in an unincorporated neighborhood just east of Colorado Springs, never looked down on pit bulls. Until last August when Susan Polston moved in with her 8-year-old son and two pit bulls, Achilles, below, and Asia.
Then, in October, Achilles confirmed their fears when it jumped over the fence and attacked Moonbear. Elmore’s 16-year-old son, Matthew, witnessed the attack and managed to free his pet, which suffered cuts to the ears and neck.
An animal control officer from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region investigated, found probable cause to cite Polston for a misdemeanor charge of owning a dangerous animal and impounded Achilles.
Trial is set May 21. In the meantime, Achilles has been stuck at the animal shelter, which charges Polston $10 a day kennel fees. Polston has spent more than $2,100 in fees, spent $1,500 on an attorney and is angry that her dog does not get exercise while stuck at the shelter.
Elmore is upset at the prospect Achilles might be returning to the neighborhood. Especially after a second incident involver her and Asia, Polston’s female pit bull. Elmore said Asia tried to jump the fence and attack her, a couple weeks after Achilles bit Moonbear.
Ever since, things have been tense between the neighbors. Here’s a look at the neighborhood, south of Springs Ranch, from www.FlashEarth.com.
Wes Metzler, president of the humane society, said it’s unlikely a judge will order Achilles destroyed since the attack ended with relatively minor injuries to Moonbear, below.
But he said a judge likely will order Polston to build a secure enclosure to prevent Achilles or Asia from getting out by jumping, climbing or digging.
And he’s surprised how long it has taken for the case to reach trial. He said Polston could have petitioned the court to allow her to move Achilles, below, to a private boarding kennel where the dog could have daily exercise.
As for the debate about pit bull-type dogs and whether they are safe, here are a few things to consider . . .
In January 2009, the Pentagon banned from Army housing all dog breeds it deemed “aggressive or potentially aggressive” pit-bull types such as American staffordshire terriers and bull terriers, as well as rottweilers, doberman pinschers, chows, wolf hybrids and any others that display a dominant or aggressive behavior.
The Pentagon memo, dated Jan. 5, 2009, exempted those dogs already living on Army bases. If a soldier with a banned dog transfers bases, however, it would be subject to the ban. The Air Force also has enacted a breed-selective policy and the Navy is expected to do the same.
Consider statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control. According to the CDC, between 1979 and 1996, 279 people in the U.S. were killed by dogs. Of these, 60 were killed by pit bulls. Rottweilers were second most-deadly with 29.
In a 2000 study, the CDC reported at least 25 breeds of dogs were involved in 238 human dog bite-related deaths during the previous 20 years. Pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half of
Many nations have breed-specific laws banning the import, sale or breeding of certain types of dogs, such as pit bulls, according to Dogsbite.org, a group dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks by creating laws.
According to information on the group’s Web site, 250 U.S. cities have some sort of ban on pit bull-type dogs.
In addition, some states are considering tougher restrictions on them and debating whether to require their owners to carry extra insurance on them. That’s because many insurance companies will no longer insure homeowners who keep the dogs.